Blues Make Finals Charge

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Getty Images
Jeff Garlett and Carlton's nippy small forwards can trouble Fremantle. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Getty Images
Last Five Matches

Round 5, 2012 – Carlton 65 d Fremantle 57 at Patersons Stadium
Round 21, 2011 – Carlton 115 d Fremantle 85 at Patersons Stadium
Round 22, 2010 – Fremantle 93 d Carlton 87 at Patersons Stadium
Round 13, 2010 – Fremantle 96 d Carlton 87 at Etihad Stadium
Round 14, 2009 – Carlton 115 d Fremantle 100 at Patersons Stadium


Form

     Rd 14       Rd 15       Rd 16       Rd 17       Rd 18   
Carlton    L  L  W  W  W
Fremantle    L  W  W  L  W

All of a sudden, Carlton has a real chance of making the top eight after posting three straight wins against St Kilda, North Melbourne and Gold Coast. The Blues don’t leave their home state again until the final round against Port Adelaide, in a match which could decide eighth place. Depending on what happens with Essendon, holding on to ninth could end up being just as important.

The same goes for Fremantle , which is just two points behind the Bombers in the race for a top four spot. They were ugly but effective in shutting Adelaide out of the game last week, eventually running out 22-point winners at home. With a soft run home, a win here would go a long way to securing the Dockers a position in the top half of the eight.

While key forward Matthew Pavlich remains on the injured list, Fremantle’s forward line has received one big boost. Goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne returns after a couple of weeks out with a hamstring injury replacing Cameron Sutcliffe.


Key Men

(Blues) Matthew Kreuzer – One area the Suns had the potential to dominate last week was at the stoppages, but Matthew Kreuzer easily outplayed fast-improving Gold Coast ruckman Tom Nicholls in the first half, and his tap work allowed the Blues to get out of some tight spots. Nicholls was carrying an injury, but Kreuzer’s 42 hit outs was 15 above his season average, and his highest tally of the year. Given Fremantle’s big bodies normally dominate the clearances, his battle with Aaron Sandilands should be pivotal in deciding this contest.

(Dockers) Nathan Fyfe – The fact Nathan Fyfe has led the Dockers’ possession count the past four games, when he has David Mundy and Michael Barlow to contend with, shows just how well the 21-year-old is travelling. He also booted four goals against the Crows in a complete performance. He has been well held by the Blues in the past, but he is in sublime form at the moment.


Prediction

Carlton has won its last two against Fremantle in Perth, but the Dockers have managed to come away with the four points on its previous two away clashes with the Blues. Mick Malthouse’s team is just 4-3 at Etihad Stadium this season, although it did come away victorious last start there against North Melbourne, albeit by just one point. The Dockers have played under the roof just once this season for a 28-point win over the Bulldogs, and they were unbeaten in four matches there in 2012. In saying that, Freo has lost on its past two visits to Victoria; a 41-point thumping by Geelong followed by a 27-point loss to Richmond. This is anyone’s contest, but beating the Dockers would be a big step up for Carlton compared to its recent wins. Fremantle by 13 points .

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